I pulled into the Cracker Barrel off I-90 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We’d been riding for five hours without a stop since leaving the motel in Rapid City this morning. We were pushing hard to get home, and we needed food and lots of it. The ambulance pulled into a back area with the RV’s and the trucks, and we parked behind it.
Our group turned heads as we came in, we normally do. Ten hulking bikers in their cuts and a beautiful young woman in the middle will do that. We got a large table and placed our orders as soon as we sat down, telling the flustered waitress we were in a hurry.
“So, what are we walking into?” I looked over at Meghan, I knew that she had been on the phone with Snake, and I knew that Eve had been attacked by a rogue on our lands in Wisconsin.
“Right now, everyone is worried about Eve’s recovery, so Snake is with her and won’t leave. She’s resting now, should heal up in a day or two,” she said. “Long term, Snake is not dealing well with all this. He doesn’t see things the way you do, he wants his daughter to date, to fall in love, to have the kind of relationship he had with Vivian. Remember, he came upon Vivian after she was raped and force mated, that kind of shifts your perspective. This whole ‘find him and you’re together forever from your first kiss’ thing is not what he wants, he doesn’t trust someone to say they are her true mate and believe it.”
“He knows how it is,” Abaddon said, “But he won’t accept it.”
Meghan nodded. “Then you add in Viper and Kelly, they don’t like this either, but they know it can happen. You have to be careful how you do all this, and not just because her human parents don’t like the idea of mating. You have to deal with Eve. She doesn’t want the fate you’re trying to give her.”
“She doesn’t have a choice in this, Luna has decreed it,” I said.
“So you have always said, but that doesn’t mean she has to believe it. Even if she does, she doesn’t have to believe it is going to happen anytime soon. She doesn’t want a mate, she wants to go to college and study art. Do you think she wants to be pulled away from everyone she’s ever known to go off and make babies with a stranger?”
“It’s her destiny, we just have to prepare her better for it.” Luckily our food came, and we ate a prodigious amount. We’d push through the rest of the trip, stopping only for gas if needed.
I woke up slowly, the light from the window in my eyes. I could smell the room, I knew I was home in the medical room my mother had created.
Mother. There’s a fun one to figure out. My birth mother, Jessica, died during the C-section, Vivian saved my life and raised me until she died, but Kelly was the one I considered my Mom. All I had of Jessica was stories my Dad would tell me, mostly of her times in Grenada with them. Vivian I had some more, including her motorcycle which had been saved for me until I was sixteen. Kelly was nothing legally, not even my grandmother; Dad told me that she considered Vivian and Jessica to be like daughters, and after they died they just took over.
On Mother’s Day, I split my thoughts three ways, but spent the day with Kelly.
I looked over at the chair, where Snake was snoring lightly as he leaned back. I started to move, checking my shoulder and hip. They hurt, but not anything like before. I saw my jacket on the exam stool in front of me, and I was able to pull it close enough to get my phone out. It had blown up with messages I started to look through. Most were sympathy or encouragement, the word of my injury having spread quickly through both clubs. I sent a quick text to my brother Andrew, letting him know I was awake since he was in high school right now. Then I texted Mom to tell her I was awake and Dad wasn’t.
It wasn’t a minute later before she came through the door, moving quickly to my side. “Eve, baby, you scared me,” she said as she pulled me into a careful hug.
“I’m all right,” I told her. “The guys, Kushiel, they got to me in time.” She looked at my bandages, worry in her eyes, her mostly grey hair probably became more so today.
“Do you need anything?”
“Bathroom,” I said. She pulled the blanket and sheet down and helped me sit up, then I put my good arm around her shoulder and she led me in to the attached bath. It was painful sitting down, but after relieving myself and washing up I felt better. “I think my pain pill wore off,” I told her.
“Let’s get you back out.”
I looked at the room, I really just wanted to go to sleep. I knew I wasn’t bleeding, I’d smell that. “Can I go back to my room? I’d like to sleep in a real bed, with my music and all.”
“Sure. Come on, I’ll get your stuff and find out what I can do for your pain after you’re settled.” We went out the door, Snake still snoring gently, and into the hall. I made it a dozen steps or so, then I had to stop because something tore in my hip. I sagged onto Kelly, and she was struggling a little to hold me up.
A man came out of one of the guest room, he was good looking and human from the smell. I’d seen him with my Dad at the table last night as I left. He ran towards us, concerned. “Need help?”
“I thought I could walk better than I can,” I said, a little embarrassed.
He just moved in and picked me up. “Where is she going?” Kelly walked ahead, opening the door to my room, and he carried me in.
She already had the blanket turned down on my bed, so the stranger set me gently on the edge. “Thank you,” I said softly as he stood up.
“You’re welcome, Eve. Anything you need, let me know.”
Kelly had left to go get my stuff out of the clinic room, and I blushed a little at his gaze at me. He liked me, I could see it in his eyes, smell it on him. “I don’t know your name,” I said.
“Mitch Miller, I got in yesterday. I’m fresh out of the Marine Corps, I’m a friend of Donuts. Your grandfather is letting me stay for a while, until I find a place to live.” He walked over to my desk, writing down his phone number and leaving it in my hand. “I’m just a few doors down, just text me or call if you need something without a six-man escort.”
I laughed. “You noticed.”
“I was a sniper, I can tell a protective detail when I see it. I just don’t know why. I’d hate to think a beautiful young woman like you is in danger.”
“I’m more trouble than you can handle,” I told him, and I wasn’t even kidding. “You better go, my Dad will kick your ass just for being in here with me alone.”
He just smiled. “I’m not in the club, he can’t do anything to me except kick me out. If you want to see me, you’re a big girl, just call.” He stuck out his hand, I offered mine, but instead of shaking it, he pulled my hand to his lips and gently kissed my fingers. “Rest and heal, my beautiful troublemaker,” he said just before the door opened.
Kelly walked in, she had a sandwich and chips along with milk on a tray and set it by my bed. “Thank you for the help, Mitch,” she said as he walked out. “Now, Meghan said to give you two of these. They will be back late this afternoon.” I took the pills, then brought the plate onto my lap. When I was done, Kelly stayed with me as I laid down and tried to sleep again.
My thoughts were taken by the handsome young Marine who wasn’t afraid of being with me.
I woke up to find Eve gone and the room bright with sun. I got up and walked down the hallway, knocking softly on Eve’s room. Kelly opened the door a moment later. “How is she?”
“Good, she ate and took her pills and went back to sleep,” she said. “Hopefully she’ll sleep until Meghan gets back here.” I thanked her for watching her for me and left to go get some lunch myself. The kitchen wasn’t always open for lunch, today it should have been for day care but I hadn’t been available. I was surprised when I went downstairs that the kitchen was open and food was coming out- BLT’s and fries from the look of it.
I pulled Terry aside, he was the noon meal prospect for serving. “Who’s in my kitchen?”
“New guy, Mitch. He’s pretty good,” he said before I let him take the food to the table. I thought about going back and checking on him, but I figured it would be better to just see what he has going. I sat at the table where Viper and Crash were finishing up their food and beers. “Everything going all right?”
“Good, Snake. If this guy decides to join, we’ve got our backup fry cook,” Viper said. I told Terry to get me a Coke and a lunch, and he put the order in before rushing over with my drink. “When Gabriel gets here, we’re holding church. I don’t like how that guy was able to get to Eve, we need to tighten security.”
I nodded, I thought the same. “If we can’t be sure she is safe to run there, she can’t go. That guy might have mated her if he’d been able to stop her from running.” The prospect of that scared the shit out of every guy who had seen Vivian after it happened to her.
“I’m locking her down to the clubhouse until we can get her to the Alpha Summit. I’ve already talked to Michael, he’s keeping six people inside the gate and another four on patrol, day and night. Add in us, and the alarms and physical protections, and we should be good.” Viper wasn’t kidding around now. She’d always been restricted to the clubhouse property unless she had a large escort, but even that wouldn’t happen now. I was hoping she wouldn’t flip her shit about the new rules, maybe the close call would help drive home the need for security. I just hoped she would find her mate at the Summit, she would be happy about it, and she could have a good life with him.
“Meghan texted and said they’d be here about four. We’ll give them a chance to shower and eat, Church at seven tonight for both Clubs,” Viper said. “Spread the word.”
We talked about other stuff as my food came out. Mitch wasn’t chef grade, but he was a good cook. If he stayed away from my daughter and pitched in, I could see him fitting in here.